In democratic countries where constituency project systems are practiced, they are implemented to bring needed infrastructure and development to communities. Constituency projects were created by the Nigerian National Assembly in response to demands by their constituents around development and the lack of federal presence in communities. Projects are nominated into the national budget by a legislator and will be executed by the legislator rather than through a government agency or ministry, which ordinarily has the mandate to execute community development projects.
In Nigeria, constituency projects serve as a promise kept by legislators, made during election campaigns to bridge development gaps for their people. Unfortunately, constituency projects have stirred more controversy, with accusations and counter-accusations of questionable practices around their implementation, so much that former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo declared in August 2017 that constituency projects by lawmakers in Nigeria were shrouded with corruption.
Since 1999, national and state legislators across Nigeria’s 36 states and federal capital territory (FCT) have continued to influence the inclusion of billions of naira into the annual budget for the purpose of constituency projects, which is not in the purview of the legislative arm to implement. In Nigeria’s constitution, all development projects related to infrastructure in the country are carried out by different levels of the executive arm of government. This leads to a face-off between the two arms of governments on project execution. The 2017 Nigerian budget had more than 100 billion naira ($278 million) set aside for constituency projects but fewer than 41 percent of these projects were executed. Despite the deficit of laws or frameworks governing how constituency projects are to be implemented, especially in the areas of abandoned, duplicated, or poorly executed projects, lawmakers are further proposing 1.4 trillion naira ($3.9 billion) in the 2018 budget. The deficit created by abandoned or unexecuted constituency projects is easily perpetrated due to the lack of citizen inclusiveness and transparency in the conceptualization, design, and execution of the projects by legislators.